Cubesats research and experimentation

The Horus mission is the UPC Space Program project dedicated to CubeSats that aims to investigate and optimize every process related to the manufacture of a CubeSat, along with mission performance, to create a fully operational satellite. This project is carried out in collaboration with the ESEIAAT nano-satellite research team.

CubeSats are small satellites that have become a great alternative to satellites located in low Earth orbit. Their dimensions are standarized, corresponding to a cube of 10x10x10 cm, and it’s weight cannot exceed 1,33 kg. This leads to a tiny weight that does not exceed 10kg. Most of them, therefore, do not even reach 2 kg, and, it is for this fact that, their launch is cheaper and more affordable than that of conventional satellites. Horus has long term objectives through research departments related to the mission’s CubeSat performance.

This involves mission control and propulsion. Given the enormous amount of space debris as a result of the increasing number of satellites orbiting the Earth, CubeSats are always threatened by potential large collisions in low Earth orbit areas, so finding the best trajectories through simulations is a real necessity and they have to be supported by propulsion systems that are capable of making any necessary adjustments.

Due to the fact thar a CubeSat does not allow any combustion propellant, the team is learning about cheap high-tech systems like RIT (Radio Frequency Ion Thrusters). It is important to mention that the satellites are tested in a laboratory in a structure designed and printed in 3D by the members themselves, in no case are sent into orbit given the high complexity of the process to achieve it.



Horus’ first project, Selene, aims to research and test the communications among CubeSats using laser systems (the hardware as well as the software for the test of transmissions is made by the mission members).
The capacities of orientation can be implemented thanks to the systems of position control, that can modify the orientation of the nano satellite around its own axis to achieve stability at any of the three axes.
At account with the laser for the communications, the magnetic motors are the most efficient option given his capacity to utilise the magnetic area of the Earth, the intensity of which can be measured by the magnetic torques to determine the orientation of the satellite.
Basing at this information, the motors create a moment of inertia that makes the satellite turn in any direction.